I have long been concerned about leadership in the church. It seems that the numbers of people able to serve on committees or as elders on Session keep dwindling. Younger adults, especially those with children, are reluctant to take on an evening commitment. Many older adults have difficulty driving at night. Presbyteries also have problems with access as they tend to meet during the day when most people work. We then worry that the age demographics of our meetings skews upward. There are other issues that impact this problem, such as church membership and a movement away from long-term commitments. But, shelter-in-place has finally pushed us all to embrace one possible solution to some of our struggles: Zoom!
It’s not as hard as we feared. Yes, our older people managed to get there. Our technically challenged folks were coaxed along. We now know about Meeting IDs and Passwords and the very helpful mute options. We are now truly able to have a very quick meeting if that is what we want, eliminating the fuss of getting to a place, chatting, and driving home. We can meet while also taking care of children or finishing a meal. No one has to worry about driving at night No one has to worry about childcare. People who have functioned for years as “shut-in” due to health concerns are able to participate. One of our values as a church is inclusivity. We want everyone to be welcome and able to participate in all of church life. In this sense, online meetings really open up possibilities.
I imagine a future where meeting by Zoom is an option for every meeting. Perhaps a group would rather meet during the daytime, having discovered that a couple of people on a committee are able to take a quick Zoom meeting while at work. Perhaps parents can serve on committees more easily, not having to worry about finding childcare. Perhaps we don’t need to be concerned with snow in the winter or driving home in the dark.
We currently have Confirmation Class, adult education groups, worship, and of course committees meeting on Zoom. Maybe we’d like to keep this option around as our new normal?